Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I want to embrace everybody

Maya Angelou has been a hero of mine for quite some time. Watching her interview with Harry Smith on CBS this morning was very moving. (Unfortunately CBS will not let me embed the video directly, so do click on the link, it is worth watching.)

"This morning I’ve not slept, really," Angelou said today. "I can’t pull my nose out of the television. I go from one channel to the next, to the next, and I want to embrace everybody. I’m just so proud. And grateful."

These are my sentiments exactly.

She then goes on, at Smith's urging, to quote from memory her poem, "Still I Rise." Harry Smith was brilliant to suggest this. I love how haughty and proud this poem is. I love how feminine and strong it is. I love its weight and its lightness together.

I don't speak about politics very much on this blog, although I follow politics fervently and have a voracious appetite for viewpoints on all sides. I feel compassion for the Americans who, for reasons of their own, could not share in the transformative experience we have had as voters who have wished for -- and have now been granted -- the opportunity for change in the form of Barack Obama. I cannot express to them what a fierce battle it has been to overcome our cynicism, apathy, fears and disappointments to get there, because they have fought different battles in their time. I think that for the best of us, belief is always a struggle, and the meanings of events often become clear just as you are questioning the existence of meaning itself. It is a cycle. We are all living at different points in that cycle.

However, for now, I am jubilant, albeit a little bit scared. It has been almost surreal to watch how in spite of being shot by words and cut by glances, Obama has continued to rise, and rise, and rise. So for those of us walking with a little extra spring in our step and more than a few tears in our eyes today:

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

- Maya Angelou

3 Comments:

Blogger Keyse said...

Thanks for posting this - I just keep thinking, wow !!

12:09 PM  
Blogger doublenegative said...

Get out of my head, Weaver! I wrote a freakishly similar blog post to this one yesterday.

Angelou really does hit the nail on the head. Yay Obama!

1:53 PM  
Blogger Ryan Rose said...

:)

2:02 PM  

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